Scripting News archive for August 2012

We *Really* Built It permalink

A picture named webuiltit.gifIn all seriousness, the Republicans have made an extremely cool invitation to debate who built this country. Were it the capitalists like Mitt Romney, or were it the people who busted their balls to make something happen. Big or small. America is made up of millions of stories. We all have families we're proud of (to some extent at least) and we're not all like the little dude in Monopoly with the tux and top hat. We're dirty and crazy and we love this country. So fuck you Mitt if you think you made this. We made it. A picture named republican.gifAnd we're not Republicans.

If I were making signage for the Democrats I'd have lots of We Really Built It signs around the convention center. And huge chants with teachers and construction workers and teamsters and immigrants and women -- you name it -- all the people who aren't Republicans -- people who Built It.

How about a boxing match between a teacher and an actor who looks like Paul Ryan. Obviously the teacher gets to kick "Paul Ryan's" butt. For extra fun have the teacher come from Janesville, WI. :-)

One thing the Dems might not realize is how much pent-up frustration there is with the antics the Repubs have been pulling that have been screwing our country. It really would be nice to direct that hate of all things Republican in some productive direction.

Posted: 8/31/12; 9:07:45 PM.

International news feeds permalink

I'm putting together a new tabs.mediahackers.org panel, a world news river.

I'm starting with the "international" feeds from major news outlets such as the ABC from Australia, Ria Novosti from Russia, Al Jazeera, Ha'aretz, The Hindu, NYT international feed, etc.

Here's the current list:

I'm looking for other feeds. They should be English-language. Cover non-local news for their geography, but not be focused on the United States. We already have lots of American news in other tabs.

If you have any suggestions, please post a comment here. Thanks!! :-)

Posted: 8/30/12; 9:26:43 AM.

Write a blog post permalink

This is just common sense.

If you want to start a discussion you can write a blog post. It's not as beautiful as some of the new systems. But you're not locking your ideas in a place where they can't be part of any of the systems we've developed on the net for ideas to flow around. And if you don't use those systems we can't make them work better.

Start a blog on Tumblr or Wordpress.com, if you need to, or use the one you probably already have. Post a link to Twitter so we can see what you have to say. If people want to comment they can. It's the best system we have, until a better one comes along. And Branch is not it.

All they have to do is support feeds to gain parity with the blogging tools. If they do, we can re-evaluate. (Actually they have to support some APIs too, and trackback.)

Posted: 8/29/12; 9:20:27 PM.

Levity in Republican politics permalink

RNC chairman says Romney's birtherism is levity in politics. If it were levity it would be self-deprecating. For example Romney making jokes about how his underwear is itching in the heat. Or joking about what his other wives are going to say when he gets home. Forget about his birth certificate, let's see the marriage certificates. All of them.

Romney, if you want to show you have a sense of humor, show a clip from Big Love at one of the campaign rallies.

That would be some levity.

Posted: 8/26/12; 5:41:31 PM.

Remember where you were when...? permalink

On my way out of Madison yesterday there was a show on the local NPR station with Tom McBride, a professor from Beloit College, reviewing the touchstone concepts of each of the generations. It was a fascinating show. People my age know what an "icebox" is, not because we've ever used one, rather because the previous generations did. Kids today talk about cc'ing someone, but they don't know where the term came from. And people my age don't really understand why DJs are considered musicians. And some of us know the tech stuff cold, despite what the kiddies think.

A picture named moon.gifOne concept they talked about is what does The Day The Music Died mean to you. They talked about Buddy Holly and Elvis Presley and Kurt Cobain, none of which are meaningful to me (though I remember where I was when Elvis died, on East Johnson St in Madison). They left out the most meaningful music death of my generation -- John Lennon, and yes of course I remember where I was when I heard that.

And today Neil Armstrong died. And yes, I remember where I was the day he landed on the moon. I was at the Newport Folk Festival in Newport, Rhode Island. Thousands of us were watching the landing from a small portable TV on top of a VW minibus. I couldn't really see what was happening, but I remember the moment, very emotional, a moment of pride and amazement at what we could do. It was one of those "pinch me" moments. I still feel the emotional charge now, 43 years later.

Posted: 8/25/12; 5:29:41 PM.

Protocols don't mean much permalink

Three people have asked me to "weigh in" on a new protocol called tent.io. I looked over the site, and I don't understand what I'm supposed to weigh in on. Anyone can write a spec. What matters is what software is supporting the protocol, what content is available through it and how compelling is the content. RSS won not because of its great design, but because there was a significant amount of valuable content flowing through it. Formats and protocols by themselves are meaningless. That's what I say about specs. Show me content I can get at through the protocol, and I'll say something.

Posted: 8/22/12; 10:10:26 PM.

Chrome RSS breakage, part II permalink

There's a huge thread on the post about the way Chrome has changed its behavior with RSS feeds.

A recent comment by Navarr Barnier says that Chome only triggers the new behavior for files with type application/rss+xml, and not for files with type text/xml.

He's got a point. Here's a file I uploaded to S3 with type text/xml. It didn't bring up the crazy dialog that tries to send me to the Chrome store. I got a stylization of an RSS feed. Not exactly what I'd like which is the feed looking like XML.

Here's the same file uploaded with type application/rss+xml. And sure enough it brings up the dialog.

The moral of the story is if you can set it up so you serve your feeds with type text/xml, you can circumvent the breakage in Chrome. The question is, should we do this. I'm not convinced it isn't asking for more breakage from them.

Posted: 8/21/12; 9:17:26 PM.

User-editable structure permalink

There's been a lot of action lately in new web-based content management systems, but imho, all the systems other than the worldoutline software I'm working on, are barking up an wrong, old tree. I had to go on a road trip to figure that out.

Key idea -- there is the equivalent of source code in content. Behind the rendering of pages, of which there can be many kinds, there are words and structure. The words are like the furniture and equipment in an office building. And the structure are the beams, elevators, water pipes, electric lines, network infrastructure.

Most content systems have very simple and fixed structures. Authors and designers can't do anything with the structure. In a way this is good because they don't have to do anything. But eventually this becomes too limiting. It's a limit I haven't had to deal with for a very long time, so sometimes I forget that almost everyone else is living with that limit.

Anyone who has lived in an outliner totally understands the idea of user-editable structure.

Posted: 8/20/12; 10:47:11 AM.

What's in a tabbed river? permalink

A very quick technical overview of what's in a tabbed river.

First, a river is a list of items in reverse-chronologic order from a collection of feeds, also known as a subscription list.

Feeds are RSS 2.0, 1.0, 0.9x or Atom 1.0.

Subscription lists are in OPML 2.0. An example of a subscription list.

The rivers are in a new JSON-based format. Example.

I would like to see others build on the JSON format, providing new flows, and also providing new user interfaces.

A tabbed river is a collection of rivers, presented in a tab format. I'm using the Bootstrap Toolkit for the tabs.

Posted: 8/16/12; 10:36:35 PM.

How much does a digital subscription to the NYT cost per year? permalink

At lunch today this question came up and no one knew the answer.

One person asked how much a song on iTunes costs. 99 cents, everyone said.

Seems we should know the answer to the question about the Times.

Posted: 8/15/12; 3:27:22 PM.

Trying out Medium permalink

Evan Williams just announced a new blogging tool so I signed up. He just sent me an email saying I can post.

After a bit of fiddling around, I can post. Screen shot.

I have something I want to write about -- the new rivers I just shipped. Especially the Apple river, which replaces the Olympics as the lead river.

Here's my first post.


The editor is very nice. Very simple. I think I understand what it is.

1. It's a blogging community.

2. It does categorization, but does it upside-down. Instead of adding a category to a post, you add a post to a category. Maybe a little like Delicious, but with an editor. I never was a big user of Delicious so it's hard to say.

3. It's very bare-bones. But like I said it's nice. :-)

And I appreciate the chance to try it out.

Here's a screen shot of the About dialog for the river. I thought I might use it for the picture in my Medium post, but it wasn't the right shape. Neither was the one I used. I think it's really designed for photos.

I got an email when someone gave some kudos to my post. :-)

Posted: 8/14/12; 7:23:53 PM.

An open Twitter-like ecoystem permalink

Please read this piece first. Thanks! :-)

All of a sudden lots of people want to talk about this.

And that's good!

I've been wanting to do that for a long time.

All I have to say is this -- go slowly, and set moderate expectations. Building ecosystems and coral reefs takes time, patience, love and understanding. And maturity. And friendliness. And code.

Posted: 8/13/12; 6:22:48 PM.

Convert UTF-8 to HTML entities? permalink

I wish there was a simple C routine, possibly table-driven, that converts a string of characters from UTF-8 to HTML entities. Also these.

This problem must have come up a million times. I bet it's out there. Do you know where it is?

Posted: 8/12/12; 5:37:20 PM.

Madison 8/21 through 8/23 permalink

I'm going to be in Madison, WI for three nights starting 8/21 and leaving on 8/24.

I'll be giving a talk at the technology conference on 8/22. I'm driving from NYC, and bringing my bike. I want to ride around Lake Wingra. I used to that "back in the day." If you have any suggestions on things to do please post a comment here.

Looking forward to eating some brats and drinking some Leinies. :-)

Posted: 8/11/12; 2:12:59 PM.

Feeds for my Apple river? permalink

Is the Twitter API an open standard? permalink

I don't think Twitter considers its API to be proprietary. There have been numerous clones and as far as I know they've never said anything about it.

I am, of course, not a lawyer and am not seeking a legal answer. The question is, if one were to compete with Twitter and if the API is an important part of the competitive product, why wouldn't you seek total interop with Twitter? That way developers are not in any way locked in to either platform.

I'm not telling anyone what to do, or making any moral judgements, just coffee-housing, kibitzing, pontificating, hopefully harmlessly. :-)

Posted: 8/9/12; 6:25:19 PM.

Preview: Tabbed river permalink

I have four rivers that I follow pretty much all day while I'm working.

Olympics, tech news, my own personal interests, and New Orleans. I want to be systematic about keeping up with each of these rivers, so I put into tabs on this page:


The Olympics will be intensely interesting for another week or so. Tech news is something I'm always interested in. The tech tab here comes from the feeds in TechMeme's leaderboard. The 100 most frequently cited news sources for the previous 30 days.

New Orleans is interesting because their newspaper, the Times-Picayune, announced that is curtailing printing. I wondered if some of the slack could be picked up by a river of news.

If you have any questions about how this is done, please post a comment here.

Update -- added a feature that allows you to select the active tab from the URL. Useful if you're bookmarking the river and know which one is most important to you.

It also handles the case where you specify a panel that doesn't exist.

Another update -- I added the Berkman river.

Posted: 8/5/12; 12:56:50 PM.

Tabbed rivers question permalink

I want to put multiple rivers on one page using a tabbed interface.

Here's an example of the tabs. And here are three rivers. When I try to concatenate the rivers, the Javascript code gets (understandably) confused. I admit that as a JS programmer I am in way over my head. But as a user, I know exactly what I want.

How to do it! (Any help is much appreciated.)

Update: I have the answer, thanks to Kashif Khan's help. I'll post a demo shortly. :-)

Posted: 8/4/12; 3:08:38 PM.

What if Feedburner closes? permalink

A bunch of people sent me links to this piece that asks if Feedburner is about to be closed by Google. My guess is that Feedburner is probably not closing now. It sounds like they're shutting down some communication channels they weren't using, and pulling back from a business model that wasn't making money.

But what if they are shutting down Feedburner? This is something you should think about. Google people give me grief when ever I mention that it might not be the best idea for people to centralize their feeds this way. And they're entitled to their point of view, but I'm pretty sure I'm right about this one. It wasn't a very good idea. The fact that Google is pulling back from the service, and that is unquestionable, is evidence of that.

What can you do, and what can Google do to make a transition easier?

1. Google can use the redirection facilities built into the web to send traffic to the Feedburner version of your feed back to its original location. That way people can keep publishing their feed contents and the subscribers will continue to receive updates. It's crucial that the connection between publishers and subscribers be preserved.

2. You can use the facility that Google provides to map a CNAME to your feed, so that if Google shuts down Feedburner, you can point that name at your main server, and your feed could continue to be accessed even if Google does not provide a redirect.

If you have any questions, post them here. If I can't answer them I'll try to find the answer.

Posted: 8/3/12; 9:18:01 AM.

Digg archive gone? permalink

Worth noting, a SF Weekly article that says that the Digg archive is gone.

If this is true, then the value of Digg as a way of preserving the history of its time is nil.

I read the FAQ that explains they're providing users with their data.

This connects back to the question I asked Fred Wilson last week.

Posted: 8/2/12; 11:41:03 AM.

In Madison, August 22 and 23 permalink

A heads up for people in Wisconsin who read Scripting News.

I will be in Madison on August 22 and 23, participating in the Forward Technology conference, and getting another look at the town I went to school in in the late 70s.

We're going to have a meetup at the Computer Science building on Dayton St across from Union South on the evening of the 23rd, 5PM to 8PM.

Andrew Shell is orchestrating from the Madison side of things.

Posted: 8/1/12; 10:20:14 AM.


© Copyright 1997-2013 Scripting News, Inc. Last build: 8/8/13; 9:27:02 PM. "It's even worse than it appears."

Built by workspace.userlandSamples.genMonthlyArchives.genOneMonthArchive on server "larryKing."

RSS feed for <%weblogName%>